My friend Donna's dog went to Dog Heaven today. Bailey was 15 years old. Donna cried as she told me on the phone. I cried back. I cried for Donna and her family and their loss of a loyal companion, and I cried with the knowledge that some day, I, too, will have to say goodbye to my beloved friend, Zoe. Zoe is my best friend, my confidant, my soul mate. And, yes, she has four legs, whiskers, and a tail. She purrs with perfection and makes my life complete. I've got a serious case of feline love.
I come by my four-legged obsession genetically. Growing up in a pet-friendly household, we always had a few animals sharing our lives--fins, feathers, or fur. I have pictures of me as a toddler holding my new kitten, Bunky (named after Archie Bunker) in my lap. I had a parakeet who rode on my pink Barbie corvette (who was subsequently eaten by Bunky). Scores of others passed through our door, and all the while, I learned how to love and respect God's creatures.
My heart began yearning for a pet after we bought our first house. Tim and I found Zoe at PetSmart when the Logan County Humane Society was offering cats for adoption. In stark contrast to the active little kittens, a soft gray ball of fur lay relaxed in the back of her cage. Her green eyes glowed, the color of a margarita on the rocks, and pierced the depths of my soul. The moment I held her in my arms, I was in love. An instant and endearing love of the feline type. Zoe nuzzled her bubble gum pink nose into my neck, claiming me as her human. After the required 24 hour waiting period, we picked her up the next day. The sign on her cage read, "DAWN," but the name did not seem fitting for such a magnificent work of art. She sparkled with life. From her gentle meows to her long eyelashes. We changed her name to Zoe, Greek meaning "life." Her middle name? Marilyn Knox after my grandma, a woman who loved cats more than life itself. Zoe Marilyn Knox Traber. A regal, royal name for my princess.
Here we are, ten years later, and Zoe is truly a member of our family. She and I share a special bond--she was my first baby, even if I did not exactly birth her. She looks deep into my eyes, and I know she understands me. She seems to understand my unspoken emotions. I can be exactly who I am and feel exactly what I am feeling, and she loves me in spite of it. She holds my heart in her paws.
When I heard the news of sweet Bailey's passing, I was reminded that pet ownership is an act of faith. We pour our hearts and souls into creatures who, in all reality, will leave this earth before us. Yet, we can't help ourselves. We love and are loved in return, quite unconditionally. Animals teach us compassion and companionship in ways we can only imagine. They demand our hearts and give us theirs in return. While we gave Zoe Marilyn Knox Traber a home, she gives me boundless love and indescribable joy. Nothing in life can compare to sweet feline love.
Rest in peace, Bailey.